What’s the State of eSports in Education? [Survey]

“Academically speaking, the addition of eSports enriches the student experience; it adds more opportunities for our online students, who account for more than 25 percent of our overall population. – Douglas M. Scheidt, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, SUNY Canton 

How involved is your school in eSports? We are finding that many colleges, universities, and even K-12 schools are already heavily involved both with eSports competitions and in teaching the underlying gaming technology. This year alone, our customer SUNY Canton received 270 applications for its eSports-inspired major, Game Design & Development. Participants and spectators of eSports are expected to grow from 395 million this year to 580 million by 2021.

To understand what’s driving eSports in schools and help school leaders with their planning, eCampus News and Extreme Networks are conducting a short survey. The goal is to share insight into planning and implementing eSports programs, as well as understand the associated costs and benefits. Participants in the survey can elect to enter a drawing for two iPad Pros.

Statistics on student-athletes show higher GPAs, higher retention rates, and higher graduation rates than the rest of the student body. Since not all students are equipped to compete or participate in traditional athletics, eSports is a means to extend the benefits of team participation to a broader student audience. SUNY Canton added three eSports teams and now competes at the varsity level with a number of other forward-thinking colleges and universities around the country.

eSports isn’t just about playing games. Its popularity has opened the door to new career paths in game design and development, and the dream of working in the eSports industry or becoming a professional gamer is now a reality. Indeed.com reports that job postings related to eSports are up 18 percent since last year and up 57 percent since 2015.

SUNY Canton’s eSports teams are a mix of women and men, with the exception of an all-women’s Overwatch team. Encouraging mixed-gender teams for eSports puts the recruitment focus on talent rather than gender, improving inclusion overall and helping to fight the stereotype that gaming is male dominated.

In order to compete effectively, it is important that the school gaming center be equipped with the best possible wired and wireless network. Even a five-millisecond connectivity delay can significantly impact the outcome of the game. It’s vital to monitor the bandwidth and latency of the network, to make sure the fast reflexes of competitors translate to in-game advantage. The gaming arena at SUNY Canton has 24 lab stations with professional gaming PCs, gaming stations with consoles, and specialized mice and keyboards that react to player movement within milliseconds. Alienware provides the gaming computers with video cards and high-end peripherals. The arena also includes five 4K monitors that connect with larger screens to project instant replays, and a team meeting space for game review. An announcer can broadcast the games live on Twitch. All of this is powered by Extreme’s industry-leading wired and wireless solutions, which deliver high speed, high-density Wi-Fi during critical playing times.

Read more about eSports at eCampus News:

This blog was originally authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Vertical Solutions Marketing.

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